Tigers Pullout Quiets 84 Lumber

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 84 Lumber ClassicThe traffic on the two-lane roads leading to the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort figures to be much lighter now, the galleries smaller. There's no more hype about No. 1 vs. No. 2, or the 84 Lumber Classic becoming the PGA's fall classic.
 
What Tiger Woods brings to a tournament he can take away, and Woods' pullout Tuesday eliminated much of the buzz surrounding what was promising to be one of the PGA Tour's best post-major tournaments.
 
Now, No. 1-ranked Vijay Singh can reprise his Canadian Open dual against Mike Weir, but there's no danger of No. 2 Woods unseating him to reclaim the world ranking he held for about five years. Instead of 21 of the top 30 money winners -- an excellent fall field -- there are only 19.
 
Rather than five Ryder Cup golfers, there are three (Chris DiMarco, Stewart Cink, David Toms). Kenny Perry, No. 26 on the money list, also pulled out after deciding not to play in next week's World Golf Championship event in Ireland.
 
The field is significantly upgraded from a year ago, when only one of the top 21 money winners showed up at the resort where the tournament is held. But defending champion J.L. Lewis said any tournament with Woods playing has a more important feel to it, and he wishes Woods was around.
 
'Ernie Els, too, anybody who's in the top 20 or 30 in world,' Lewis said Tuesday. 'It's always good to have Tiger in the field.'
 
Tournament officials, most notably 84 Lumber founder Joe Hardy, were disappointed by the news, especially after they spent considerable money promoting Woods' appearance. Newspaper ads that ran Tuesday in area newspapers still boasted of his presence.
 
Woods cited fatigue following the United States' unexpectedly poor showing in its 18 - 9 loss to Europe last weekend in the Ryder Cup in suburban Detroit. Woods won only two of five matches, and his twin losses Friday with Dream Team partner Phil Mickelson was the precursor of the Europeans' rout.
 
'I told everybody I thought the U.S. was going to kill them, so that shows you what I know about it,' Lewis said. 'The Europeans, I don't think anybody in Europe expected them to win, maybe a few on the inside. How could you? But they didn't have pressure on them, and I think pressure played a big role in it.'
 
Aaron Baddeley was one of the few PGA Tour regulars who predicted a European victory, but even he was surprised at how easily the win came.
 
'I thought, as a team, they were all playing better,' he said. 'The ball was definitely on the Europeans' side.'
 
Numerous theories were floated for the Americans' collapse, including their uptight, all-business approach that contrasted with the Europeans' relaxed looseness. Lewis has a simpler theory.
 
'The Europeans grow up playing alternate-shot golf and foursomes golf in their junior golf programs and Americans don't,' he said. 'I think it's that simple. A lot of those guys have been playing alternate-shot since they were kids. It's different, over here it's much more of an individual game.
 
'Obviously, they did a good job of preparing, I'm sure we did everything we could ... but our guys didn't play that well and their guys did.'
 
Meanwhile, Singh can secure the PGA Tour money record with at least a second-place finish. He is $488,755 away from the record Woods set in 2000 and is guaranteed about $116,000 from the no-cut American Express Championship and the Tour Championship.
 
Singh will be paired with Weir for Thursday's opening round, a rematch of their Canadian Open playoff won by Singh two weeks ago.
 
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    Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

    Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

    Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

    Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

    12/1: Dustin Johnson

    16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

    20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

    25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

    40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

    50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

    60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

    80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

    100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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    Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

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    If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

    Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

    Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


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    There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

    There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

    Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

    John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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    Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

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    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

    Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

    Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


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    “I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

    Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

    “I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

    But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

    “I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”